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Olympian Zhou not to miss national games

Updated: 2012-01-10 09:19
( Xinhua)

CHANGCHUN, Northeast China - A Changchun official said on Monday that Olympic champion Zhou Yang will not miss the ongoing 12th national winter games.

Zhao Xiaolu, deputy chef-de-mission of the Changchun delegation, said the twice Winter Olympic champion will take part in the women's team event on Wednesday after skipping all the individual events.

"Zhou Yang is quite down now, far below her normal level of competition, since she's been out of regular training for almost six months," said Zhao. "Therefore the Changchun short track team decided to rest her in individual events."

The 20-year-old Changchun native, who showed up at the pre-tournament practice, was questioned of her work ethics after sitting out three days of the January 7-11 short track competitions, including her specialty event of 1,500m.

As four-time Olympic champion Wang Meng was banned from the winter games after an internal brawl last summer, Zhou, a close friend to Wang, remains the biggest name to be expected in the short track rink.

It has been rumored that Zhou, one of the four torch bearers who lit the main cauldron at the winter games' opening ceremony a week ago, was quietly demonstrating her dissatisfaction on Wang Meng's expulsion by refusing to take races at the winter games.

"It's absurd to say that Zhou's missing some of the events at the winter games because of Wang Meng's absence," responded Zhao.

Last August, Wang Meng, the most decorated winter sports athlete of the country, was expelled from the Chinese national team after a drunken brawl with national team manager Wang Chunlu. She has been banned from any competitions without clear timetable for coming back.

Zhou, who snatched the women's 1,500m and 3,000m relay golds alongside Wang Meng at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, once declared that she'd quit the national team if Wang Meng was not called back, but was later persuaded to stay by Wang and other officials.

She represented Changchun in December's national short track speedskating championships, without any good results from all the events she participated in and even failing to make it to the 1,500m final.

"Zhou received some regular training with the Jilin provincial team after the national championships last month, but she apparently needs more time to recover both physically and mentally," said Zhao.

"We consulted with the Changchun team's coaching staff and decided not to send Zhou Yang on the ice here," he added. "Considering her situation now, it's better for Zhou to rest rather than get frustrated in the rink."

The athlete herself is not available to make comment for the moment, according to the Changchun delegation, which has a strong squad in short track speedskating.

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